.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Born at the Crest of the Empire

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Slipping Morale?

I just want to make a quick empirical observation. More and more in the articles from embedded reporters patrolling with US units, you are reading some version of this,
"Whatever new plans they come up with, it won't work out here. It's getting worse and worse," the soldier said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he worried about a reprimand from his superior officers. "I was here last time, in the beginning. Now it's totally changed. They don't even respect us anymore. They spit at us, they throw rocks at us. It wasn't like that before."

Higher-ranking officers with the task force said they see encouraging signs that cooperation with Iraqis will improve as the new security initiative in Baghdad begins.

What catches my eye is not so much the lack of hope from the infantry soldier, although that's definitely not good, what I see as important is the growing distance between the way the soldiers and the officers see the war. More and more we're reading foot soldiers expressing hopelessness about their efforts while their officers talk of optimism and positive signs. (McClatchy had another clear example on Sunday.)

I am not a military expert, but it would seem to me that this growing gap in perception will likely lead to a disconnect between officers and soldiers which could mark the beginning of serious problems.

If you're an infantry soldier seeing little point in your patrols, how do you respond to being sent out, being shot at, seeing comrades wounded and killed, day after day at the hands of officers who you don't think have a grasp on the reality.

How does that clash not affect you?

(This is just a speculative post based on a few tidbits, but I'm growing worried by what I'm reading.)


  • What's that saying? Anyone above a major is just a politician.

    By Blogger -epm, at 8:21 AM  

  • To some degree. Officers tend to look upward alot more.

    But I also think it marks a difference in the perception of the complexity of the fight. On paper it looks hard, but managable; we work with this faction here, government forces there....

    But in the reality on the ground, that assumes that all the actors are binary in their performance and allegiance. That they will all do what they say and that their motivations are exactly what they say.


    By Blogger mikevotes, at 8:30 AM  

  • FWIW-

    Very good point. I think you've got a pretty good grasp of the situation from different perspectives. What does it say? Nothing good.

    Having "flowers thrown at your feet" to being spit on...well, that speaks for itself.

    By Blogger Chuck, at 10:01 AM  

  • I don't think this is a major manifestation as yet, but it's just something that's got me worried.

    I also think part of the disconnect is that the mid-level officers are dealing with Iraqi military/political figures who are telling them what they think is expedient while the US ground troops are watching the Iraqi forces in reality.


    By Blogger mikevotes, at 12:15 PM  

  • ...mid-level officers are dealing with Iraqi military/political figures who are telling them what they think is expedient ...

    This presumes a frightening level of naivete on the part of these officers.

    You have grunts who know the truth, officers who don't know the truth, and political leaders who don't give a damn about the truth.

    By Blogger -epm, at 1:54 PM  

  • Possibly it shows naivete, but it might also reflect a far subtler political edge from the Iraqis than most give them credit for.

    Of course, I could be wrong in my interpretation.


    By Blogger mikevotes, at 2:35 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home